When was the Bellingen Main Street Plan adopted by Council?

    The Bellingen Main Street Plan was adopted by the Council 28 October 2015, this is the latest report regarding the Bellingen CBD redevelopment with previous reports being commissioned in April 2002 and September 2010.

    What consultation took place for the plan to be adopted?

    Council carried out the following actions:

    Development of ideas with community through a variety of consultation sessions held during the week 22 to 28 April 2015

    Ideas Tent:

    ·  Thursday 23rd April: from 9am-12pm, 1-4pm

    ·  Friday 24th April: from 9am-12pm, 1-4pm

    ·  Saturday 25th April: from 9am-12pm

    ·  Monday 27th April: from 9am-12pm

    Community Meeting:

    Thursday 23rd April, 7pm-9pm - Uniting Church Worship Centre, Hyde Street, Bellingen

    Retailers’ workshop breakfast:

    Monday 27th April 7am - 8.30am - the Fennel Seed Cafe, Church Street, Bellingen.

    ·  Information session with Councillors 29 July 2015

    ·  Community open forum meeting held on 29 July 2015

    ·  Bellingen Chamber of Commerce breakfast information session 30 July 2015

    ·  Public exhibition period from 2 to 30 September 2015 (28 days) during this period a public a community forum was also held

    ·  Adoption of the final Main Street Plan in October 2015 and display on Council’s webpage

    ·  Briefing session with Council on 22 February 2017 about the progress of engineering & landscape design plans which raised the need to remove the Camphor Laurels in Church Street

    ·  Ongoing dialog with RMS during the design phase and in preparation for construction

    Are the Trees Heritage Listed?

    None of the trees that are proposed to be removed have their own individual listing as Heritage Items in the Bellingen Local Environmental Plan 2010, however the 3 Camphor Laurel trees to the north of Hyde St are identified as part of a group listing of street trees in the north Church St road reserve. The trees to be removed on the south side of Church St do not have an individual or group listing.  All of the trees are within the Heritage Conservation Area that covers the Bellingen CBD and adjoining streets.

    The group listing of trees on the north side of Church Street was fully considered by Council when Development Consent was granted for the removal of 5 Camphor Laurel trees in 2010. This listing was only one of the many matters that were taken into consideration by Council at the time, with other matters such as accessibility, damage to infrastructure, liability, alternative options to removal, and the broader opportunities presented for streetscape renewal figuring prominently in the ultimate decision made by the Council of the time to approve the tree removal.

    The decision of the current Council to finalise the removal of the trees is based upon the same set of justifications considered in 2010. The group listing in north Church St does not present an obstacle to proceeding with the removal because there is a valid development consent in place to do this work. As the work progresses, there will be a need to revise the heritage schedule in Council’s LEP to reflect the removal of these items, however this cannot take place until such time as the trees are actually removed in their entirety. The removal of the trees on the southern side of Church St can take place as part of the implementation of the approved street upgrade works along this frontage and this does not require separate development consent.

    Council has been at all stages mindful of the impact that the proposed works will have on the essential heritage character of Bellingen and remains confident that they will  have no significant lasting impact, and that the replanting program, and the broader main street beautification program, will in itself become a source of civic pride for generations to come. 

    What construction works are about to commence?

    Upgrade of the intersections at Hyde & Oaks Streets and Hyde and Church Streets

    How is the project funded?

    The project is funded jointly between Council and the NSW Roads & Maritime Services.

    What is the current level of funding?

    The current project cost is $950,000 which is made up by a $761,000 grant from the RMS and $189,000 from Council.

    Why do the trees need to be removed?

    During the detailed design phase for the Hyde & Church streets intersection concerns was raised regarding the potential long-term impact of the camphor laurel trees on the new infrastructure being construction in Church Street and the existing infrastructure and communities liability risk. 

    The uneven and broken pavement poses current and future risk exposure to road users and pedestrians, particularly for the elderly and people with mobility or vision impairment.

    The removal of the Camphor Laurel trees has been identified in reports dating back to April 2002.

    How many public liability claims has council received associated with the trees in Church Street?

    Council receives many claims regarding trips and falls and is required to provide a safe place for pedestrians and motorists and people with disabilities. In addition the Council receives numerous service requests for repairs to the footpaths in Church Street concerned about public safety.

    What approval did Council need in preparation for the tree removal?

    It should be noted that camphor laurel trees are designated as a Class 4 weed species and typically do not require approval for remove.

    The remaining Church Street trees on the northern side of Hyde Street were approved for removal 15 December 2010. One tree was already removed as part of this DA in 2011 as part of the streetscape works.

    Under the provisions of the Infrastructure State Environmental Planning Policy, tree removal is permitted to assist the construction of road related infrastructure providing a review of environmental effects is carried out and this has been carried out. 

    What will the trees be replaced with?

    Council has established a working party with Council and community representatives to identify suitable super advanced tree replacements. 

    When will the trees be removed?

    The final detail of the project is being discussed with the RMS however work is expected to commence in the current financial year.

     A program of work once established will be widely broadcast the local businesses and residents.